Rainforest Cafe Dispensary Proposal Lacks True Equity, Organizers Say – Block Club Chicago

RIVER NORTH — A violence prevention group criticized a dispensary that’s trying to open in the former Rainforest Café, saying the project does little to diversify a predominately white industry or benefit nonwhite communities.

Bio-Pharm and Palatine-based PTS are partnering to try to open a dispensary at 605 N. Clark St. The two would do away with the giant mushrooms and jungle-themed designs at the closed restaurant, investing $7-10 million into the new dispensary. They’d have graffiti-proof walls with LED lighting, armed security guards and 55 off-site parking spaces, company officials said.

Bio-Pharm is among the companies that received one of the 185 coveted social equity cannabis licenses from the state in 2021, part of an effort to bring more people of color into the legal weed business.

But Members of Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change said the companies had few leaders of color at the meeting, and they should create a community benefits agreement to give back to local organizations and causes that support people of color.

“We talk about social equity, and when I look at this room I see a number of white faces,” Tyrone Muhammad, executive director of the group, said at the meeting. “When we talk about

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